Women’s participation in politics in (post) conflict countries: Role of women in peace negotiations

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Women’s participation in politics in (post) conflict countries: Role of women in peace negotiations

“Wherever there is conflict, women must be part of the solution” – Michelle Bachelet

Women must be allowed to participate in peace negotiations as well as be a part of the transition process after a conflict. However, most often women are neglected and ignored and their opinions and voices are cast aside. Nevertheless, decisions made during these periods tangibly affect the lives of women and girls; it is, therefore, time to recognize the role and power of women in the peace-process and in shaping the future of post-conflict countries. Fortunately, throughout history, there have been women able to leave their political mark in their country’s transition to peace that can serve as examples for women worldwide.

Q1: What measures can/should be put in place to guarantee women’s political participation in post-conflict countries?

Q2: Do you have examples of where women’s participation improved a peace process?

Q3: What can women politicians do to guarantee their seat at the negotiating table? What do you believe women can offer in these situations?

 

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iKNOW Politics's picture

The legacy of conflict-related violence endures long after a peace agreement is signed. In too many cases, violence and insecurity continue or even increase for women, facilitated by large-scale impunity, the absence of effective justice systems and an unreformed security sector. Re-establishing the rule of law is the foundation for women’s security, protection of rights, and, ultimately, an equitable peace.

In regards to this discussion, we would invite you to visit the resources provided by UN Women to read more on women's role in peace negotiations and post-conflict countries.

Sahro's picture

Indeed wherever there is conflict, women must be part of the solution!

BT Costantinos's picture

http://prezi.com/rta7gw6mpy17/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0...

Women's efforts at peace: Somalia

  • Over 1,000 youth aged between 18-25 years have been salvaged from the notorious Al Shabbab militia by SWA members after they expressed their interest in leaving the group.
  • In the Somali civil war women find themselves at the centre of conflicts fought between their sons, husbands and relatives. 
  • Peacebuilding conferences in Somaliland, in Borama and Sanaag (1993) and Hargeisa (1996), would not have taken place without the collective lobbying of women pressuring the elders to intervene to end the conflicts. 
  • Ismail Jumale Centre for Human Rights 
  • The IIDA Women Development Organization of Merca In 2007 IIDA initiated the Somali Women’s Agenda (SWA), linking Somali women in the diaspora with those in the country
  • The network Women Pioneers for Peace and Life, known as HINNA became ‘peace pioneers’, organizing peace campaigns and using the respect they earned as fighters to intervene with militia and warlords to diffuse tensions at critical times in Mogadishu
  • In the Arta conference in Djibouti and the Mbgathi conference in Kenya, women made inroads with their participation and representation
Obiageli Obi's picture

I come from the Eastern part of my country, Nigeria. I believe women groups should be strengthened; groups, such as the Umu Ada group. This group is made up of all the women born in the village or town. Some are married outside the village and some are married within the village. Some women are unmarried, divorced or single mothers and retain their place in their father's household. The ages range from 25 years to the oldest woman alive and born of that village. The older women above 60 years are most respected in their judgment when there is a deadlock among men. This is more obvious in situations where the woman has an outstanding character in the village or town as not being morally corrupt and has been a mother figure to many. My late ex-husband’s grandmother was one of such. She hailed from a town called Olokoro in Old Umuahia but was married in a village called Umuobutu. Even though she was not from her husband's place, she was highly respected. Her advice on intertribal conflict was received as the final decision to follow. She gave accounts of matters that her husband, who was the chief, had done and it was believed. 'Da' as she was fondly called was loved and respected for her wisdom, knowledge and peace making. Sadly she died at the age of 130 years. I believe that such women still exist and their roles in peace making should be highlighted. Although the Umuada groups have been corrupted to a certain degree, with a bit of counseling and education on basic tenets of justice, I believe that the groups working with the August meeting women groups for wives will ensure peace reigns. After all, the men in question are their husbands, sons, brothers, fathers, relatives etc.

Ola Al-Shami's picture

Totally agree with you dear! This should be the case in all post -conflict countries or countries subject to transitional periods where the absence of women's active role and the lack of their important role in peace-making would postpone the country's peace-building process and would create more sufferings and losses to women such as them being subject to violence or losing their male family members one after another, just because they are passive peace-makers! Thanks for the insightful examples you provided, so many lessons are drawn from them. :)    

Obiageli Obi's picture

I believe female politicians should start building their structures among women. I find it ridiculous that women campaign using the same campaign styles that men use. Women should build a female back end. Women must learn to work together...get a consensus among themselves before approaching the men. The men will not always dictate the tune by their financial capabilities. We must work on our numbers and that way get the men to come to us. We must empower each other so we can all have some level of economic independence when the men come with their money to sway us. Our energy must come from our commitment to what is right for the common man, our passion as mothers and daughters to ensure that justice prevails and our strength and unity in numbers. Only then can we speak at the negotiating table. More importantly, we must put our best foot forward. The women we send must be intelligent and if possible more intelligent than the men. They must be able to hold their own.

amgaili's picture

Hello everyone, 

It’s a pleasure to participate in this interesting discussion.  In the fourteen years following the end of the Cold War, from 1990-2004, there have been 60 conflicts around the world and women are the last to be called to the negotiating table and continue to have a minority stake in the negotiations on to peace and security except in some cases such as Northern Ireland, Guatemala, Republic of Somalia ... etc. But women continue to receive less attention than men in peace negotiations, disarmament and post-conflict reconstruction. 

There are currently conflicts in the process of negotiating for peace and we can see the absence of women in the peace process in the Basque Country, the conflict between Morocco and the Western Sahara or the conflict in Syria. 

Women should have the same opportunities as men to represent their countries in all international forums that address these issues and, in particular, in the meetings held within the United Nations system, including the Security Council, as well as in all peace conferences. Governments should also take steps to facilitate this participation through institutional means and education, with particular attention to the political framework that converts women into relevant participants in countries in conflict. Women need to have a strategic role throughout the peace process, from negotiations and peace agreements to the political and economic reconstruction of the state and social structure. 

We must facilitate the participation of women in peace negotiations and in decision-making mechanisms. The participation of women can ensure the implementation of a gender perspective in peace negotiation decisions. I believe that without the presence of women in this field we cannot guarantee the implementation of gender mainstreaming. 

Warm regards, 

Emgaili Jatri 

(original comment in Spanish)

francisca's picture

Women as political and development actors must participate in peace negotiations and be part of the process of transition from conflict. Not only because the decisions made directly affect us but because PEACE IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERYONE AS IS THE REBUILDING OF A NEW COUNTRY. 

I’m answering according to the situation that we, the women of Colombia, are facing at this time. 

 Q1: What measures can/should be put in place to guarantee women’s political participation in post-conflict countries? 

The Colombian Constitutional Framework promotes peace as a fundamental right and a mandatory duty and endorses the incorporation of the principles derived from the protection of human rights. In this context, those instruments relating to the participation of women in the processes of negotiation, consolidation and peacekeeping, post-conflict reconstruction and its contribution to development, are essential for achieving a compromise, followed by real action, by the State and civil society. 

 In developing the latter, Colombia has a comprehensive policy framework and public policy, which makes explicit the state's duty to protect the rights of women in armed conflict as well as ensuring effective women’s participation in the construction of peace, despite the persistence of significant gaps in its implementation, as well as expressions of discrimination and structural violence against women in public and private spaces. 

 Based on the above, in accordance with its mandate to support the participation of women in conflict resolution and peace building, in accordance with the Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888 and 2106, the United Nations System in Colombia, in response to requests made by the peace talks and the Peace Commissions of the Congress of Colombia , has been supporting public consultation processes on the axes of the agreement to end the conflict, and to that end, has promoted and ensured a broad participation and representation of women's voices in such spaces. 

Q2: Do you have examples of where women’s participation improved a peace process? 

Even if women don’t qualify as direct actors in peace dialogues, history shows that they have managed to participate creatively and with initiatives that have improved the process. 

For example, in Sri Lanka, Uganda, Kosovo, Chile and Argentina there were the Truth Commissions and women did not stop until they were heard and made part of these commissions. This is also happening in my country, Colombia. 

Q3: What can women politicians do to guarantee their seat at the negotiating table? What do you believe women can offer in these situations? 

Under the above context and in regards to the development of the Peace Talks surrounding the "General Agreement to end the conflict and build stable and sustainable peace", signed between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC - EP), the peace and transition process in Colombia is a unique opportunity to address the structural causes of inequality and discrimination emergent through violent conflict, and consequently, an opportunity to position the women's agenda into the peace process as not only central due to the impact that armed conflict has had on their human rights, but also, without the involvement of the women, given their historical contribution to the peace building, both the legitimacy of the process itself as well as the sustainability of the agreements is put at risk. 

The participation of women in these areas of public consultation, based on their historical experience in building peace and reconciliation throughout the country, demonstrates the ability of women to provide concrete peaceful solutions to conflict, however, this capacity contrast with the fact that addressing gender issues and women's rights were not part of the agenda of the Peace Talks and therefore have not been a priority within the partial agreements achieved to date. 

Therefore, and after the active role of the UN in the national forums that have taken place in Colombia in consultation with civil society to ensure the representation and participation of women, women's organizations, after raising queries with the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, proposed that UN Women support the organization of a summit in which women from diverse regional, political views and experiences in peace building and active neutrality measures in relation to conflict, have the opportunity to dialogue and build proposals to deal with the challenges that must be addressed in a possible post-agreement scenario to end the conflict. 

UN Women, in coordination with the Office of the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator, shared this request with all agencies of the United Nations System in Colombia and pledged to support the implementation of the Summit as an initiative of women's organizations, under the criteria governing their work accompanying the process of peace building and post-conflict proposals relating to the respect for the principles of fairness, diversity and pluralism.   

 The Women’s Summit will use the women's contributions to the 5 points on the agenda of the peace talks between the Colombian Government and the FARC, in both the National Forums (agricultural, participation, illicit drugs) and at the regional talks convened by the Congress’s Peace Commissions, under proposals surrounding the challenges and countersignature mechanisms, implementation and verification of agreements reached on comprehensive agricultural development, political participation, ending the conflict and a solution to the drug problem and its victims. In this regard, we, women, hope to contribute not only to the current process, but to provide proactive input to possible peace talks with the ELN (another guerrilla organization). 

 In Latin America and the Caribbean there is some progress in the inclusion of women in peace processes, but there is a general lack of awareness of the Security Council’s resolution in promoting women's participation in conflict prevention and resolution.

(original comment in Spanish)

Marcia Onelia Sobalvarro Garcia's picture

I believe that we, women, are by nature conflict mediators; we set the pace and we are always in search of peace and harmony. This is why I am convinced that, as more and more women get into politics, the history of conflict will be different. In Nicaragua we are blessed to still have alive a great woman who became president of this country by ending a very bloody 10 year-long war. As a woman, she brought about a peace dialogue and allowed a hurt people the opportunity to be reborn, to dream again. This woman returned the faith and hopes to an entire country and sent a message to the world that peace was attainable. I know that perhaps there were many factors that helped make this possible, but I am convinced that it was the fact that she was a woman, a wife and mother that moved the people to fight with faith and with the hope to attain peace in our country and to stop killing each other. For this, Nicaragua is proud to have had Violeta Chamorro as president.

(original comment in Spanish)

ameena alrasheed's picture

In order to secure women’s inclusion in the overall process of peace building in a post conflict setting and their participation in the political processes it is important to design the parameters of inclusion first hand, and to comply with the regulations and rules that allows for women’s inclusion. The UN has a historical responsibility in making the post conflict setting responsive to peace building processes and regulations. It is evident that women were failed in many attempts of inclusion in different post conflict states, such as Sudan, Congo, and, to less extent, Somalia, etc. Accountability is much needed to include women, and affirmative actions are as well needed to help women participate in building states. The international actors, specifically the UN, should not support a peace agreement that excludes women, and should apply firm mechanisms and regulations to secure women's participation.

ameena alrasheed's picture

Women’s participation in any peace process would bring women’s cognitive style in and their cognitive structure will be evident, women’s concerns will be listened to and considered. The male dominant peace negotiations and peace processes seem to overlook the importance of women’s inclusion. The very structure of our societies that accepts the rule of men as leader and head of institutions needs to be challenged and new ideas and approaches should be put in place to secure women's inputs.

A very direct and simple understanding of women being used a tools during war time, and left behind in peace times, needs to be turned upside down. As bearers of the consequences of wars and as tools subjected to torture, rape and despair, women need to be present in building the future society, a fair and equal society. It is evident that women's presence makes a big difference, more women at the decision making processes changes the style and the interest of the overall group of candidates and sheds more light into issues of concern and benefit to women, children and men in the society at large.

ameena alrasheed's picture

I think the question should really be how the international community, such as the UN and other bodies, can help women find spaces in peace negotiations and in the politics of the post conflict states. Accountability and affirmative action are crucial. When the CPA of Sudan started there were promises of including women, and when the negotiations took place women were left out and were not allowed to participate; this took place almost in all peace negotiations around the globe. Women said that the UN failed them by not standing and advocating their rights to be there....All these are just products of our masculine mentality that the international organization are bearing as well, so it is imperative to highlight the importance of women’s inclusion to push forward towards better representation and women’s participation. Women, as well as being active in the struggle against exclusion, their struggle should also include bringing in new strategies and approaches to the table that can help secure proper representation.

Still we are all open to new ideas and views on how to go about it, and, in my view, the UN plays a crucial role in securing women’s inclusion and can further help by following the parameters that can guarantee women’s participation.

mpinzon's picture

Greetings from this corner of the universe - Guatemala - better known as the land of eternal spring. Despite its elegant name, spring has not yet bloomed for the Mayan women of my country. In regards to the first question, it’s only been 16 years since we’ve signed a peace agreement, or better said a war truce, and the measures to establish or ensure our participation are being created but await the approval from the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala of an agreement ensuring quotas for women's political participation. In Guatemala, as in many parts of the world, women occupy incipient participation levels that do not allow for real opportunities in political participation. I don’t want to go without mentioning that every day, we, the women of my country contribute socially, but we still do not have effective measures to have our voices heard. UN Women in Guatemala is seeking to have government uphold the UN resolutions, such as 1325 and the latest, 2106, which emphasizes the political participation of women, peace and security which, I believe, should come into effect in real terms.

(original comment in Spanish) 

asilmona's picture

While women's space at the decision-making tables during the post-conflict reconstruction efforts has historically been absent or marginal, today increasing numbers of women and women's groups are realizing the significance of their active participation and contribution to the peace process. One important measure which women use to guarantee their presence is campaigning for the adoption of gender quotas, both during transitional governments, as well as the newly developed governments, in particular the legislative bodies. Such quotas have assisted women to voice their demands and interests during the reconstruction process in countries such as Afghanistan, Rwanda, and Uganda, among others. 

However, such gender quota adoptions are often credited more to the efforts of the UN and other international and regional bodies, rather than the pressuring and campaigning efforts of domestic women's movements and groups. While the international community does play a key role in the adoption of such measures in post-conflict countries, it is important to also recognize women's own efforts, and the extent that such demands were supported by the grassroots and civil society organizations, rather than mere top-down measures as recommended by the UN and other bodies. Indeed, it has been due to the domestic support for women in peace-processes that women's shares in most places has increased following the quota adoption. 

For an analysis of the actors and factors that deserve our attention in gender quota adoption in post-conflict contexts, I recommend the newly published article: "Gender Quota Adoption in Postconflict Contexts: An Analysis of Actors and Factors Involved" by Mona Tajali, in the Journal of Women, Politics and Policy: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1554477X.2013.820115?cookieSet=1

ameena alrasheed's picture

Greetings to all of you,

I am very delighted to be able to look at the various sound perspectives from different regions and countries, reflected in this significant forum, and I would like to add one point that I believe is crucial in making women's inclusion effective and possible, which is the issue of finance. Women politicians need to be empowered economically in order to compete with equal footing as men. Lack of funding and women's poverty reduce the capacity that can bring more women in. We know that poverty has a feminine face and without addressing issues of economic disparities we cannot efficiently utilize women's style and structure in politics or peace processes.

We should adopt or adapt to specific strategies that can secure funding and support for women's inclusion. Without sound economic support women cannot compete in an uneven environment where the wealth is basically monopolized by the few who are in fact predominantly men.

Apart from the will and affirmative action needed, secured sources of finance should be guaranteed for women. 

We hope that financing could be considered the corner stone in including women in the overall political processes and given the utmost attention by the UN and other international actors.

Indra Biseswar's picture

Q1: Guaranteeing women's political participation in post-conflict countries implies a new beginning. Many conflict-ridden countries already have  either low political participation of women or the role of women in politics is insignificant. What is important is the pre-conflict stronghold of women and their organization, because that can act as a springboard to a more active political engagement after conflicts. After all,  'Post-conflict'  can be symbolic to 'new' and 'revolutionary'. It can create new opportunities for women to assert their rightful place in the political field.

However, if we leave the gear in male hands,  women 's political participation, despite their great contributions to bring stability, cannot be guaranteed. It is after all, a historical phenomenon that after peace has been achieved, women will be re-routed back to the kitchen.

Measures: Women should create opportunities and use existing post- conflict opportunities to establish their political strongholds; They should pitch from women's networks and organizations; They should use the opportunities to challenge gender biased legal systems and review laws and policies; They should use the momentum to be ready with their package of demands and assure that strong women leaders are there to take those forward. 

Q2: In a few countries women have taken daring steps to contribute to peace negotiations, such as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Somalia., and so forth. Historically women have also played prominent roles in peace negotiations among different clans, families and communities.  There are numerous studies on the subject and a few organizations have been established recently to entertain this subject (for instance: Global Network of women Peacebuilders).

Q3: Guaranteeing a seat for women on the negotiation table implies first of all having that seat. And we are aware that very few women occupy that seat. Occupation of that seat again does not mean that it will be sustainable and that future women will keep on occupying that seat.  It remains a battle, a struggle to gain the right for that seat. Quotas can offer sometimes a solution: a fragile solution. Because quotas can, on one hand help women to get that seat, but on the other hand, be used as a gift, token to exert loyality.  So, what is the solution for women to get their seat and stay on it?

We often speak of gender but fail to comprehend a gender approach to situations. The focus remains too much on women that solutions often fail to be sympathetic to male needs and involvement. In other words:  to assure that women occupy a seat in peace committees, it is crucial that men should be more actively engaged than women in promoting women's involvement. It is not only the mis-perception of gender being equal to 'women' that has created far too many backlashes, it is also the monopolization of women in that field that creates resistance among men to accept it as a genuine tool of equality.

To guarantee women's emancipation and equal representation, male emancipation is in fact the key, otherwise we keep on running in circles. Changing times requires changing perceptions. Initiatives for and by women are not the solution.

In short: to guarantee success and sustainabilty of women's position at the negotiation table, the main goal should be to assure that it comes from men, men who understand, are open and aim to work together in a gender balanced manner. What women can do is to steer the gender agenda towards a new approach, an approach where men will also find their place. Focus on how to get men on board.

And of course women can continue advancing capable women at the negotiation table, provide training and consultancy and use their network and organization to get the best candidate for the job. 

Idah's picture

Greetings!

This is a very interesting discussion. Allow me to share my thoughts.

Women's participation in politics and in peace negotiations is largely influenced by the nature of the post-conflict situation. In post-conflict contexts, such as Liberia and Rwanda, women who played key roles - informally and formally - in resolving the conflicts were able to get a formal role in the peace negotiations. While in a context like Iraq, the representation and participation of women continues to be challenged due to the security situation and an increase in sectarian violence and extreme religious views.  Women who want to actively participate in formal peace negotiations have to get nominated by their political parties. Additionally, the allocation of seats in political processes is done through "muhasasa", i.e. allocation of seats based on sects/ethnic quotas. This has further marginalized women.

Q1: What measures can/should be put in place to guarantee women’s political participation in post-conflict countries?

- The use of quotas will guarantee women's representation in political processes;

- Pre-negotiation agreements should include the condition that women need to be included in the discussions in order to legitimize the political process and the resultant agreement as women represent a large proportion of the population;

- Sustained advocacy efforts from CSOs and other supportive groups to include women;

- Someone mentioned that the UN should not agree to participate in discussions that do not have an adequate representation of women. I do agree with this. Additionally, the UN should set an example and include women in their mediation teams, i.e. lead by example;

- As mentioned, providing technical and financial support to women would definitely facilitate their participation in peace negotiations. Technical support can be provided by experts. Financial support is important especially where the venues of the peace negotiations are far and costly and thus may be too expensive for women to attend;

- Provision of security for women, e.g. in a context like Iraq, where there are reports of assassinations, killings of politicians, one needs to hire personal security for themselves and sometimes for their family members;

- Lastly, from discussions with women politicians, networking is important as well as keeping one abreast of the latest information. A lot of peace negotiations are concluded before stakeholders sit at the table. Decisions are taken "in the corridors" and endorsed and formalized at the table. Women need to understand the rules of the game, which unfortunately are based on male connotations, and need to identify male allies who are supportive of women's empowerment. With time, these rules change as more women get involved in politics and are able to influence processes to result in decisions that support women's empowerment and gender equality.

Q2: Do you have examples of where women’s participation improved a peace process?

- In Liberia, due to the presence of women in the peace negotiations, a peace agreement was concluded and language on gender balance in government institutions was included in the peace agreement.

Q3: What can women politicians do to guarantee their seat at the negotiating table? What do you believe women can offer in these situations?

In politics women have to go the extra mile to prove themselves capable politicians to their own political parties and to the public.

- There is strength in numbers so a lot of lobbying and advocacy is needed by women politicians and supported by women activists and male allies;

- Networking and understanding of the dynamics of the political context to take advantage of opportunities in a timely manner, i.e. speaking up on issues relating to the peace process. This brings visibility to women politicians;

- Presenting and advocating issues that address the needs of the different segments of the population and not just women's issues;

- Use the media. Women should have media contacts and work with them to ensure that they get coverage for their efforts at peace-building.

Women have a lot to offer substantively in the issues that are discussed and included in the peace agreement; which will drive the processes of peace-building and state-building. The inclusion of women is therefore critical.

MirtaPraino-'s picture

"In a conflict, women should always be part of the solution" Mirta Praino – Argentina 

"Women should be a participatory part of the solution" Mirta Praino – Argentina 

Women should participate in peace negotiations and be part of the transition process after conflicts. 

The women should not remain invisible in the decision-making processes. 

 To my understanding, women can and must participate in peace negotiations and be part of the processes of conflict. 

On many occasions, in the Latin American countries, we, women, are ignored, we’re invisible; our voices go unheard and our opinions even less. 

Now, on the occasions where we are able to use our knowledge and are part of the decision-making processes, the importance of our role as women is recognized for its commitment, responsibility and expertise that we, women, bring to the peace processes. We also bring a different perspective from other segments of society, such as gender identity, ethnicity, religion, etc. 

Throughout Latin American history, there were several women who have left their stamp on peace processes and conflict transition. 

It is reasonable to note that our absence in the process is not for lack of experience in dialogue, neither because we don’t consider the best way to negotiate, it is instead due to a clear form of exclusion, men don’t want to include us.

 In the years of democracy in Latin American countries, women have been able to sustain a participatory growth, but clearly not enough to lead in a conflict context. If you look at peace processes, take the case of Sri Lanka, this peace process was imbued with gender, so I understand that we, women, should be included in the conflicts to see them clearly and to be guided from a clear gender perspective. 

 Q1: What measures can / should be established to ensure the political participation of women in post- conflict countries? 

I understand that the measures needed would be the implementation of relevant legislation and the importance of the participation of women in local governments. 

 Q2: Do you know of any case in which the participation of women has improved a peace process? 

Yes, the Government of Sri Lanka and the case of the female Senator, Piedad Cordoba. 

Q3: What can women politicians do to guarantee their seat at the negotiating table? What do you believe women can offer in these situations? 

Women must be empowered and must participate. 

We, women, from our view of gender, have a different perspective and thus in this way we can instinctively humanize the terms of conflict. As an argument, we can add that the inclusion of women in peace processes not only obeys the law but it is also a question of rights. We need to be involved in the process, as it is based on the importance that we can convey perspectives from the point of view of gender, equality and local agendas. Women's participation is a prerequisite for the empowerment of the construction of this democratic society, based on the processes of equality, justice and rights, when it comes to a peace process.

  Mirta Praino -San Fernando , Buenos Aires , Argentina

 Legislative Councillor MC- Advisory - President of Association CodoACodo – 

mirtapraino@gmail.com - Facebook - MirtaPraino

(original comment in Spanish)

moniquek's picture

I come from the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the international level, my country is categorized as a post-conflict country, but armed conflict continues to this day in the East, conflict that the DRC is determined to end, with the assistance of SADC and the United Nations. 

The political participation of women in my country seemed very far because the war created a great obstacle to the reconstruction of our country, but the women did not cross their arms and do nothing; although absent in the political negotiations, they continued to lobby, and talk to end the atrocities in the East, they imposed their voice and presence in the management of the country. Many of the strategies and actions were taken to achieve political power. Congolese women won their place with massive representation during the national peace negotiations organized by the President of the Republic, who stated, in clear terms, for at least 30% participation of women in all institutions as well as reserving one seat out of three for women in parliament. It was a great victory over the long struggle led for years by the Congolese women.

(original comment in French)

fundacion de la mano contigo's picture

The woman is an essential part of any conflict solution; we have the most important role, that of bringing children into the world. We are great household managers, producers, income generators, responsible for 80% of the products that are harvested in the world, and still governments intend to render us invisible. We need to create state policies where women have greater presence and equal participation. 

Society must have a photographic memory of women’s participation throughout history, as in Colombia, where there have been great women in our history, Manuela Beltran and Policarpa Salvarrieta. I hope the new policies include us in their peace processes; at least that is what we hope for in the peace process in Colombia, for women’s participation.

(original comment in Spanish)

Aurea López's picture

Q1: What measures can / should be established to ensure the political participation of women in post- conflict countries? 

Affirmative action measures should be established, as part of state policies, in favor of women’s development in each country, thereby reducing interference with and control of the state and citizens to comply. Gender quotas should also be established, with the non-recognition of institutions that do not meet the quota, promoting leadership and financial support, which are considered essential, among others. 

Q2: Do you know of any case in which the participation of women has improved a peace process? 

In Peru we lived through an extreme armed conflict between 1980 and 2000. The institutionalism and organization of the people and leaders who did not identify with the group Sendero Luminoso or the army representatives were annihilated. The Commission of Truth and Reconciliation was created post-conflict, charged with investigating and documenting what had happened to make it known to the population and compensate its victims as well as guarantee that history does not repeat itself. The commission involved a well-known policy. Although initially the organized participation of women, especially the victims, was almost nonexistent, following the deep suffering that this war had left in the affected areas, a leadership to rebuild emerged. The support from NGOs and others has been important in the formation and development of women's organizations to development in this new stage, which no doubt have improved and each day affect the improvement of the peace process. It is gratifying to see that women, half the population, are taking increasingly more participatory decisions that affect their lives. 

Also hundreds of major social conflicts are linked in recent years to mining and the interests of the affected people of my country. Lately negotiating tables have been formed for their settlement but these have not explicitly included women's organizations, which is a serious shortcoming. 

Q3: What can women politicians do to guarantee their seat at the negotiating table? What do you believe women can offer in these situations? 

Women politicians must take leadership roles and be representatives of women's rights and / or mediators through women’s support, especially if they hold public office, where they face obstacles (e.g. macho intimidation, lack of funding, political harassment...). 

In local mining conflicts, even when women politicians are mediating and seek to make the conflicting parties (state, company, town) come together to help better understand and solve problems, they must insist on their involvement of the mediation of conflict in the interests of women and their participation as guarantors of compliance with the agreements.

In the last five years local and regional women’s networks have been organizing, which can regulate and manage greater political participation of women in local conflicts. 

At the macro level, legislators are required to negotiate for affirmative action measures to support women's participation in post-conflict situations, to promote leadership and organization, reducing barriers to their political participation, as well as in citizen oversight agencies.

(original comment in Spanish)

María Eugenia Rojas Valverde's picture

Q1: What measures can/should be put in place to guarantee women’s political participation in post-conflict countries? 

In societies where human rights abuses come in the form of political persecution or oppression certain practices can constitute an abuse. This is especially the case regarding abuses against women, whether domestic or public. To create change and build the foundations of understanding and respect for human rights, a long and comprehensive process is required. It also requires political leadership, strong legislation and effective mechanisms to force compliance, along with extensive education and awareness-raising in the community and in religious institutions, schools and workplaces, and in the media. 

The post-conflict challenges are many; in the period after the war, societies and political leaders often have the opportunity not only to reflect on the devastation of war and human rights violations, but can also engage to find policies and values to prevent recurring atrocities. Often civil society groups are more easily mobilized and committed to the task of correcting past mistakes, therefore, the role of women is critical since we are the most vulnerable actors. 

Q2: Do you have examples of where women’s participation improved a peace process? 

Experience definitely teaches that women were deeply involved in the actual disarmament. There are many examples among these: 

In India, in the northeastern state of Manipur, more than 10,000 people have died as a result of armed violence. The Women's Network of Manipur, survivors of the armed conflict, was created by women to heal the wounds caused by armed violence in their community. The Network sponsors education and supports the children of survivors and raises awareness about the effects of gun violence in the community. 

Security Sector Reforms: 

In the Liberian conflict, India’s first all-women paramilitary unit has been a success, which is why their initial six months of deployment was extended to a full year of service. Women are part of the central reserve policy of India and gained expertise in conflicts, such as in Kashmir and northeastern India. The unit has offered tents to the Liberian police cadets and has also executed raids against narcotics. The head of the unit, Deputy Inspector General, Seema Dhundia, indicated that her presence has resulted in an increase in the number of volunteers for the Liberian national security forces. 

Q3: What can women politicians do to guarantee their seat at the negotiating table? What do you believe women can offer in these situations? 

Policies and international legal mechanisms continue to move in favor of the inclusion of women. National governments, multilateral organizations, financial institutions and regional organizations recognize the importance of the participation of women at all levels of peace processes. These policies ensure accountability by governments in the inclusion of women in peace processes. 

Gender equality in political participation is a path for development as well as for good governance and democracy. The role of women is essential, as it includes their empowerment for the protection of women’s human rights and their work for the prevention of sexual violence, the increase in HIV AIDS, through economic programs, among others.

(original comment in Spanish)

feryalalkaabi's picture

Resolution 1325: its concept and Importance

Security Council resolution 1325 was adopted by the Council in its October 2000 session. It reaffirms the important role of women in Peace Building and the efforts aimed at keeping and consolidating peace and security. It is a document made of 18 points focusing on four interrelated issues, namely: participation of women in decision making, in all peace operations and the protection of girls and women’s rights in the time of conflicts, incorporating gender perspective in  the UN reporting and implementation. The resolution encourages the UNO, the UNSC, the Governments, and all parties of armed conflicts to involve women in all stages of Peace making and in decision taking positions, and to protect women and girls from the impact of armed conflicts. Several governments have shown strong commitment and   undertook some initiatives for that end. Yet in the absence of any monitoring and reporting mechanism it is difficult to assess the true impact of the implementation of this resolution. Its wide geographical scope will enhance its effective implementation. Women of the World, living in conflict situations or peaceful ones, will work for restoring and achieving World. The resolution comprehensive character will permit the formation of coalitions and international women networks lobbying for its implementation. This resolution is considered one of the most important resolutions adopted by the international organizations on women’s issues. It offers women an opportunity to strengthen their participation and provides a new level of women participation in unconventional leadership tasks and showcases their peacemaker role in their communities.

Iraqi Women and the UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Security and Peace

Iraqi Women made many sacrifices and endured a lot of oppression and violence in different forms and from all parties. They suffered many violations and risks while living under the scepter of an Iraqi society with a male dominated culture, where women were the prime victims of Human rights violations in Iraq be in the family, on the streets, in Government offices, or by armed Militias with different affiliations highly influenced by the sectarian and political conflicts. The present security situation involves daily assassinations attempts targeting political, cultural or academic personalities and motivated by mere difference of opinion. The political changes in Iraq and its orientation towards modern democracy did not bring about the commensurate progress for women , which should have reflected their efforts , in many instances superior to men’s, in helping Iraq overcome its past crisis. Iraqi women played an important role in times of armed conflicts and social unrest. They worked hard through different circumstances of conflicts and wars to maintain and sustain the social order.

Iraqi women lived through difficult circumstances in an environment of armed conflicts and militia activities. In spite of their sacrifices women were not awarded a leading or central role at different levels. That is why the adoption of Resolution 1325 is considered a landmark in the development of women’s rights and women’s security and peace issues in Iraq. Resolution 1325 opens the possibility for Iraqi women to express their views, to share their thoughts and pressure the decision makers to substitute violent policies by dialogue platforms. Women represent half of the society. They suffer, sometimes directly, and also indirectly when family members are hurt.

Resolution 1325 is considered the first official and legal instrument issued by the UNSC in this regard. It calls upon the parties to a conflict to observe women’s rights and to support woman participation in Peace negotiations and in social reconstruction in the post conflict phase.

UNSC Resolution 1325   is a very important legal instrument which advocates an increase in women representation at all levels of decision making, it urges the member states to incorporate gender perspective into conflict prevention, management or resolution mechanisms. Thus it gives women a role in an effective participation in decision making. Worldwide, many steps aiming at its implementation were taken since the issuance of this resolution in October 2000. However women, on the Iraqi scene, have not witnessed any equal movement towards the implementation of the resolution; similar to what is being done around the world. The then ruling regime was not ready to implement the resolution. Women in Iraq were belatedly informed of the content of the resolution. Even under the present circumstances, the pace of change is slow and does not reflect the importance of the implementation of this resolution in order to allocate a role for Iraqi women in Peace and national reconciliation in the wider sense.

The implementation of, and support for the UN resolution 1325   represent the main challenge facing women in Iraq at present. The Iraqi women’s role in making national political decisions in the current political situation remains absent. Women were excluded from the negotiations between political coalitions aimed at resolving the political crisis through which the country went after the parliamentary elections. Women are also denied a role in facing the challenges emanating from Iraq neighboring countries.

UNSC resolution 1325 on women, Peace, and Security urges the Security Council, the UN Secretary General , the member states , and all other parties ( concerned parties, army , humanitarian organizations and the local community ) to take the necessary measures on the following issues :

1-      Women participation in decision making and peace operations.

2-      Gender issues and training for peace keeping .

3-      Protection of women.

4-      Incorporating gender perspective in all UN reporting and implementation mechanisms.

 

The Iraqi society is in need for the full potential of its female half. This half of the society  has long been marginalized as a result of misconceptions falsely associated to religion, as well as the importation of heterodox customs , the male domination of the society, and the fear caused by the lack of a strong network capable of   creating the decision and the appropriate healthy environment to put an end to the monopoly of power , the exclusion of women in Iraqi society. The implementation of UNSC 1325 provides women and the society as a whole with a window of opportunity. men should push for its implementation, this effort could be in the form of organizing intensified training courses in the field of conflict prevention and resolution, and educating the public about women role in this field , initiating discussions involving men and women on civic affairs and how to use UNSC 1325 , and raising awareness of the staff of the military and security institutions and the police regarding the issue of violence against women in times of conflict and in areas infested with armed activities. The State should be pressured to allow women participation in peace negotiations, in particular in negotiations on conflict resolution, national reconciliation, post conflict reconstruction efforts, and monitoring the protection and respect of women’s and girls’ rights in conflict areas of the country. It provides a new relation with decision makers in the OUN  and with its resident representative and to influence the house of representatives in favor of  an effective legislation to protect women , peace and security and to prepare training material on gender issues.

 

The Iraqi understanding of the resolution

Based on what is stated above on the importance of the resolution, we can discuss a basic issue who has a local cultural specificity. This is the potential of application of resolution 1325 in the Iraqi context.

International resolutions are usually met with refusal from extremists; these resolutions are criticized for being “imported” and not compatible with the Iraqi society culture. Information available to the public about the said resolution remains scarce.  In order to implement and to publicize this resolution in Iraq, we need an awareness campaign focusing on the humanitarian aspects of the resolution, its affirmation of women role as a partner in security and peace making in their country and the protection it confers on this group in times of conflicts and armed conflicts. Twelve years after its adoption, the Council and the concerned international organizations are promoting the crux of this resolution.  UNSC adopted subsequently many resolutions reiterating resolution 1325 , these include resolution 1883 which directs Iraq to implement resolution 1325, and Resolution 1889 which reiterates resolution 1325. Yet the implementation results are still not up to the expectations , and they do not allocate an integrated role for women in the peace process , in national reconciliation, or in the political negotiations leading to a country that enjoys peace and respects the difference in opinions, away  from violence and terrorism.

 

Mechanisms for implementation of the resolution in Iraq:        

The implementation of resolution 1325 in Iraq in the present circumstances there is a need for drastic and comprehensive action and it remains the role of organizations, especially women to campaign advocacy-oriented policies and attitudes and special programs and demand the government’s attention to the importance of UNSCR 1325 for the peace process in Iraq. To achieve a greater role for women and effectively implement the resolution there is a need for:

 

  • Pressure on the House of Representatives for effective laws to protect women, peace and security;
  • Increased awareness among workers in the security, military institutions and police -about violence against women in times of conflict;
  • Monitoring mechanisms for the protection of and respect for women;
  • Pressure on the state to involve women in peace negotiations, conflict resolution, national reconciliation and post-conflict efforts for reconstruction;
  • Recruit women in the military and security corps for effective participation in maintaining security and stability;
  • Share information and experiences on women, peace and security through networking and cooperation with women's groups and women's organizations, regional and international organizations that operate in the field of resolution 1325;
  • Encourage studies and research on the importance of the resolution for global peace;
  • Emphasize the importance of the media's role in uniting the efforts of women activists and women's organizations that are involved in peace-building and security;
  • The government and civil society organizations should work on capacity building for women, providing them with new skills in conflict resolution in order to encourage them to work within the negotiating teams;
  • Creating strategic partners for the Iraqi feminist movements working on activating the resolution 1325 and to create channels of communication with decision-makers in the United Nations and the Resident Representative of the United Nations in Iraq for advocacy and support to achieve the goals of those movements .
  • Activating the participation of women's organizations in the formulation of policies, plans and strategies for the Iraqi government for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, and to identify obstacles to the implementation of the resolution;
  • The government should set up a national action plan for the implementation of resolution 1325 with the help of local and international institutions , taking into account the special needs of women in hot spots;
  • Raise awareness among the judiciary and the police on women’s rights;
  • The government and civil society should work on awareness campaigns about Resolution 1325;
  • Review curriculum to ensure the teaching of the concept of equality between the sexes is applied in all educational institutions in Iraq.

(original comment in Arabic)

feryalalkaabi's picture

The talk about building a democratic society draws attention to the importance of women’s role in life in general and particularly in political life in order to move away from a theoretical application of the democratic principle to a practical approach, women must be effectively involved in the community. While the Iraqi constitution confirms a lot of women's rights, including participation in parliament by no less than 25% , discrimination based on sex is still an obstacle to the participation of women officially in the process of decision-making and access to resources for participation in peace negotiations and national agreements.  There is a clear exclusion of women's political participation by political parties and no efforts for the development of women cadres within party leadership. 

To consolidate the aspirations of Iraqi, there is a need for reformed legislation as well as a change in the existing social, cultural, political and economic paradigms. 

Draft Law on Political Parties and the aspirations of women

The law of parties delayed for nearly four years, is one of the most important steps for the advancement of women’s political participation in the Iraqi society. The draft law came pursuant to Article 39 of the Iraqi Constitution, which provides for freedom of association and membership of political parties. If the draft is approved, it will assist in the organization of the political process. What is interesting is that this law, consisting of 46 articles did not contain any legal texts emphasize the role of women in party work. 

The inclusion of women in this law is very important to be in line with the principles of the democratic system and commensurate with the Constitution, which emphasizes women's quota in parliament. The use of quotas within parties is very important to guarantee participation opportunities for women within the party, both within party structures and while choosing candidates for the electoral process. Parliament is composed of political parties or political blocs and there must be a role for women in terms of the establishment parties and leadership in order to have an active role in the parliament. 

The draft is currently being reviewed by parliament for the purpose of discussion and voting in the plenary session. Adoption of this law will strengthen the role of women within political parties and support her through a quota for women party leaders (25%). 

Parties Law and our vision for resolution 1325:

UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 of 2000 asserts the importance of women's contribution to peace and security and the importance of their full participation in all spheres of life, including the political, social and legal. Among the most important areas for women’s presence to effectively contribute to the decision making process is within party leadership (and by not less than 25%). Providing opportunities for women in the process of political decision-making through the promotion of political participation enhances their ability to develop the overall objectives of the community. The proposed law gives more space for women within political parties, which are the basic building block for democracy in Iraq. In this regard the following is proposed: 

-Need for women quota in the leadership of political parties 

- It should not be less than the existing 25% quota for women 

- Parties must be required to work on the empowerment of the feminist cadres 

-  Develop the capacities of women cadres to create women leaders within parties 

-  The law of parties is a main guarantor of the partnership of women in political life 

- Learning from experiences of other parliaments that have worked on gender mainstreaming including the amendment of party laws 

- Political parties should play a key role in supporting the political representation of women through the adoption of decisive and effective strategies to raise the representation of women in party work

(original comment in Arabic)